Competition between business locations is growing and new rivals come into play. In April 2015 international experts participated in the conference “Communications actions in today’s city branding & marketing” organized by San Sebastian Development Agency, to discuss challenges in positioning cities and regions in a globalized (or digitized) world. Greater Zurich Area AG was invited by the organizers as outstanding practice. Other participating regions and cities included Liverpool, Dublin, Oslo, Barcelona, Cardiff, Cork or San Sebastian. Moderator and co-organizer of the conference Miguel Rivas, partner of Grupo TASO and member of URBACT (EU commission aiming to foster sustainable integrated development) introduced the Greater Zurich Area as a metropolitan region with true global feel despite the relatively small size of the area. During the presentation of the Greater Zurich Area experience I highlighted our communication’s vision to promote the sustainable and innovative development of the region.

Andy Stalman, regarded as “Mr. Branding” in several countries and founder of BrandOffOn, stressed today’s strong competition among geographic entities: “Not all cities have good branding, nor do all of them have poor branding. But they all have branding”. He explained further that „branding is not a logo but a strategic asset.“ All participating regions and cities agreed that today’s region branding goes beyond slogans or visuals. David Adam, founder of Global Cities, emphasized that regions need to be “on people’s mental map” as positioning goes “much further than the physical side”. He describes branding of regions and cities as: “a new global language that seeks to attract talent, and which cities need to speak fluently.”

The Greater Zurich Area certainly is fluent in today’s “new global language.” Considering the Greater Zurich Area’s current appeal as a business location (see also fDi European Cities & Regions of the Future 2014/15) our goal is to be a native speaker. Hence, GZA’s positioning is a means to an end: keep the Greater Zurich Area and its companies at the forefront of European innovation and sustainability.

About the author

Lukas Sieber is Executive Director USA at Greater Zurich Area (GZA). Prior to GZA, he worked at Burson-Marsteller Switzerland as digital strategist, developing digital and social media campaigns for national and international clients in the EMEA region. Previous to Lukas’ position at Burson-Marsteller, he worked at the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington, D.C., and was responsible for all public diplomacy activities and programs for the Swiss government throughout the United States. Lukas hold a master’s degree from the University of Zurich in Political Science and Geography and earned a postgraduate certificate in International Business Management from Georgetown University.

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